I’ve been wanting to check out Me and Earl and the Dying Girl after hearing great festival reviews when it was released early last year. The film focuses on high school senior Greg, who has managed to evade the social hierarchy of high school for the past three years while never really allowing himself to be vulnerable – like never setting foot in the lunch room.
Along with his friend (who he calls his co-worker) Earl, Greg makes pun styled remakes of classic movies to pass the time. Greg believes he can continue to skate by senior year until his mother (played by the always brilliant Connie Britton) forces him to visit Rachel, a family friend who was just diagnosed with leukemia. Greg begrudgingly goes to hang out with Rachel, and soon discovers that he actually likes spending time with her. Soon Greg starts visiting Rachel every day and a friendship develops. Eventually Greg and Earl are commissioned to make a video to raise Rachel’s spirits as she continues to get sicker. In an effort not to make it a cliche get well video, Greg has a writers block. He does this while alienating Earl and many people at school in the process. While I won’t give away Rachel’s fate, she helps Greg to grow up and leave his self-imposed bubble in more ways than one.
The film has a charming “Wes Anderson” like feel to it with the director filming in 2:35 widescreen. The color scheme has a lot of soft pastel colors and light greens throughout the set design. The editing also reflects the theme with steady long shots and weird angles. The setting of Pittsburgh and the houses that were used also captured a perfect snapshot of suburban America and the angst and boredom that is associated with high school.
One of the highlights of the film is the amazing adult supporting cast. Connie Britton and Nick Offerman are excellent as Greg’s quirky but slightly overbearing parents and Molly Shannon is perfect at balancing grief and rage as Rachel’s wine loving mother. The young and relatively unknown teenage cast of Greg (Thomas Mann), Rachel (Olivia Cooke), and Earl (R.J Cuyler) also stand on their own and deliver very touching and nuanced performances about growing up and viewing mortality.
The film is a touching, slightly quirky, and very real take on teenage heartbreak and growing up. With a stellar cast and a fresh plot the film will make you laugh, cry, and reminisce about your teenage angst all in one sitting.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is available to stream on HBO Go with subscription.